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Full text of "Speech of J. W. Richardson, of Rutherford County, upon the Bell resolutions, in the House of Representatives, February 8, 1858"

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Upon the Bell Resolutions, 

February 8, 1858. 

The House having under consideration the fol- 
lowing preamble and resolution from the Sen- 
ate, viz. : 

"Whereas, The act of 1820, commonly called the 
Missouri Compromise act, was inconsistent with the 
principles declared and laid down in the acts of 1 850, 
better known as the Compromise Acts of that year; 
and Whereas, The Missouri Compromise act was a 
palpable wrong done to the people of the Slave- 
holding States, and should have been repealed ; 
and Whereas, The p»incip!es of the Kansas Ne- 
braska Bill meet our unqualified approbation, and 
should have received the cordial support of our 
Senators and Representatives in Congress; 

Whereas, One of those Senators, the Hon. John 
Bell, in a speech delivered against the Kansas-Ne- 
braska Bill, May 25, 185-1, said: "A noble, gener- 
ous, and highminded Senator from the South, with- 
in the last few days, before the final vote was 
taken on the bill, appealed to me in a manner 
which I cannot narrate, and which affected me 
most deeply. The recollection of it affects me 
and influences my feelings now, and ever will. 
I told that honorable Senator that there was one 
feature in the bill Avhich made it impossible that 
I should vote for it, if I waived all other objec- 
tions. I said to others who had mads appeals to 
me on the subject, that while it would afford mo 
great pleasure to be sustained by my constituents, 
yet, if I was not, I would resign my seat here the 
moment I found my course upon the subject was 
not acceptable to them. As for my standing as 
a public man, and whatever prospects a public 
man of long service in the councils of the country 
might bo supposed to have, I would resign them 

ail with_ pleasure. I told that gentleman that, if 
upon this or any other great question affecting the 
interest of the South I should find my views con- 
flicting materially with what should appear to be 
the settled sentiment of that section, I should feel 
it my imperative duty to retire. I declare here 
to-day that if my countrymen of Tennessee shall 
declare against my course on this subject, and that 
shall be ascertained to a reasonable certainty, I 
will not be seen in the Senate a day afterwards." 

Therefore, Be it resolved by the General Assem- 
bly of the State of Tennessee, That we fully con- 
cur with the Hon. John Bell, as to the duty of a 
Senator, when the voice of his constituency has de- 
clared against him on a questiou materially affect- 
ing their interest. 

Be it further resolved, That in our opinion the 
voice of Mr. Bell's countrymen of Tennessee, in 
the recent election, declared against his course on 
the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, a qestion of vital im- 
portance to the South." 

Mr. Richardson said:— Mr. Speaker: If the 
House will indulge me a short time, I propose to 
make a few remarks on this subject, and in answer 
to some of the strange positions which have been 
taken by my Democratic friends in this debate. 

I shall pursue a different course from any hereto- 
fore taken on this subject, and will start out with the 
assertion that the Compromise of 1850 was acqui- 
esced in, and endorsed by all the Union men every 
where in the South. Does any Democrat on the 
floor deny this ? li there beone, let him speak, 
because this declaration is my starting point, and 
I take it as agreed to by all of you. (No one objec- 

Let us now see what was the compromise of 
1850, and what principles did it establish. 

Tho Coiupron>lfl3 of lS5d teeludcd six measures, 
in five Acts, viz: 

An act making certain propositions to Texas; and 
establishing a territorial governraentforNew Mexico; 
an act to establish territorial government for Utah; 
an act for the admission of California into the Union; 
nn act for the capture of fugitive slave?; and an act 
to abolish the slave trade iu the District of Colum- 

Among other things this Compromise of 1850 
nettled, or thought it had settled: 

1st. The slavery controversy, by leaving the ques- 
tion to the people of tho Territories, to be by them 
settled, in their State Constitutions. 

2d. It declared the principle of non-intervention, 
which was, that Congress would not legislate on the 
subject of slavery, by establishing or prohibiting it 
in the territories, nor permit the territorial Legisla- 
tures to do so. 

8d. It required all the acts of the territorial Le- 
jtielaturcs to be submitted to the Congress of the 
United States, and to be approved, or they should 
not become larvs. 

4th. It refused to disturb the Missouri Compro- 
mise line of 1820, commonly called the line of 
86° 30'. . ^ 

5th. It restricted the right of suffrage m the ter- 
ritories of Utah and New Mexico to citizens of the 
United States, and to those recognized as citizens 
by the treaty made between the United States and 

It is all important in this discussion, m order to 
have clear and distinct views of the points in.issue, 
that they be presented fairly and truthfully, and so 
distinctly presented that every man may see them 
and understand them. 

That there may be no quibbling nor shuffling in 
this matter, I shall now proceed to prove thepropo- 
pitions which have been laid down, and request my 
democratic friends to note them. 

In proof of the first and second propositions, see 
the territorial act for New Mexico, Sec. 2, p. 447, 
Minots' edition of Statutes at large, P 849-50, and 
closing the section, you will read, '^And provided 
further. That when admitted as a State the said ter- 
ritory, or any portion of the same, shall be received 
into tho Union with or without slavery as their con- 
stitution may prescribe at the time of their admis- 
sion." At page 453, idem. Sec 1, you will find the 
Kime provision in the territorial act for Utah. Mind 
you now. Congress refused to establish or prohibit 
slavery in New Mexico and Utah, and prohibited 
any act by the territorial Legislatures on the subject, 
confining it entirely to the State Constitution. 

In proof of the third proposition, see same book, 
p. 449, sec. 7, for New Mexico; and p. 455, sec. 6, 
for Utah, and you will read, "That all the laws pass- 
ed by the Legislative Assembly (of New Mexico and 
Utah) and the Governor, shall be submitted to the 
Congress of the United States, and if disapproved, 
shall be null and of no effect." 

In proof of the fourth proposition, I give you 
what Mr. Douglas himself said in his report which 
he made to the Senate on the 4th of Jan., 1854, 
when he offered his Nebraska-Kansas Bill. In this 
report, after alluding to the Missouri ®omproniise of 
18'iO, and the views of different statesmen on the 
SBbject of holding elaves in the tenitorie^^, and by 

what power it mny bo done, Mr. Dougla?, Ciiair- 
man of the Committe on Territories, said aa above 
cited: "Your committee do not feel themselveH 
called upon to enter into the discussion of these 
controverted questions. They involve the same 
grave issues which produced the agitation, the 
sectional strife, and the fearful struggle of 1850. 
As Congress deemed it wise and prudent to re- 
frain from deciding the matters in controversy 
then, either by affirming or repealing the Mexi- 
can laws, or by an act declaratory of the truo 
intent of the Constitution, and the extent of tho 
protection afford by it to slave property in tho 
territories, so your committee are not prepared 
now to recommend a departure from the course 
pursued on that memorable occasion, either by af- 
firming or repealing the 8th section of the Missouri 
act, (the line of 3G° SO') or by any act declaratory 
of the meaning of the constitution in respect to tho 
legal points in dispute. 

"Your committee deem it fortunate for the peace 
of tho country and the security of the Union, that 
the controversy then resulted (in 1850)_in the adop- 
tion of the compromise measures which the two 
great political parties, with singular unanimity, have 
affirmed as a cardinal article of their faith, and pro- 
claimed to the world as a final settlement of the 
controversy and an end of the agitation. A due re- 
spect, therefore, for the avowed opinions of Sena- 
tois, as well as a proper sense of patriotic duty, en- 
joins upon your committee the propriety and neces- 
sity of a strict adherence to the principles, and 
even a literal adoption of the enactments of that 
adjustment in all their territorial bills so far as tho 
same are not locally inapplicable." 

I wish now to direct the attention of the IIouso 
to another thing as proof of my fourth proposition, 
which will not only prove that the compromise of 
1850, did not lepeal the Missouri restriction, or 
compromise of 1820, but that it re-affirmed and 
re-endorsed this restriction. If you will read tho 
5th article of the 1st section of the act proposing 
certain ccnditions to Texas, (one of the compromise 
acts of 1850) you will find t^at Mr. Mason, of Va., 
off"ered the following proviso, which was adopted 
and is now a part of the act— "ProyffZwZ, That 
nothing herein contained shall be construed to im- 
pair or°qualify anything contained in the 3d article 
of the 2d section of the joint resolution for annex- 
ing Texas to the United States, approved March 
1st, 1845, either as regards the number of the 
States that may be hereafter formed out of the State 
of Texas, or othenvise." 

What is the 3d article of the 2d section of tho 
joint resolution for annexing Texas? Why it reads 
in this wise— "In such State or States as may be 
formed out of the territory (of Texas) north of the 
Missouri Compromise line (36 30) slavery shall be 
forever prohibited." W^ell then, Mr. Mason did 
not understand that the compromise of 1850 re- 
pealed the compromise of 1820, for he, himself, in 
his proviso to the Texas Bill of 1850, re-affirmed 
and re-endorsed the restriction lien of 36 30, or the 
Missouri Compromise of 1820. 

Mark now, that Douglas says that the Compro- 
ini«c of 1850 neither affirmed nor repealed tho 
Compromise of 1820— and that the committee bad 
determinud to pursue the same course in icfeieiice 


[yto Nebraska and Kausas, and had also determined 

to adopt tho same principle in these bills, which the 

,. "Compromise ot 1850 had engrafted in tho bills for 

"^ New Mexico and Utah. Did Douglass and his com- 

^^"uiittee do these things? We shall see. 
V"- In proof of the 5th proposition, see Little and 
Brown's statutes, page 449, section 6, and page 4o4, 
section 5, and you will liud in the territorial acts 
ior New Mexico and Utah, the following provision: 
"■•Provided, That the right of suftVage and of holding 
office shall be exercised only by citizens of the 
United Stales, including those recognized as citi- 
T.ens by the treaty with the Republic of Mexico, 
concluded February 2d, 1848." 

I have now established all five of my propositions, 
and placed their denial beyond a controversy. No 
uian can deny them — no man dare deny them, for 
the proof has been adduced to eslablish them in 
every particular. 

Let me now, Mr. Speaker, briefly recapitulate my 
positions, which I have proved: 

The Compromise of 1R50 left the subject of slav- 
ery to be settled by the people in their State Cou- 

It declared that Congress would not legislate on 
the subject for the territories, nor recognize the 
power of the territorial legislatures to do so, there- 
by establishing truly tho doctrine of non-interven- 

U required the acts of the Territorial Legisla- 
tures, on every subject, to be submitted to the Con- 
gress of the United States, and to be by it approv- 
ed, or they should be null and void. It refused to 
repeal the Missouri Compromise of 1820. 

It restricted the right of voting in the territo- 
ries to citizens of the United States, or to those re- 
cognized as citizens by treaty stipulations. 

I now come to the Nebraska Kansas Act, and I 
say that it violated the territorial provisions of New 
Mexico and Utah, and thereby violated a part of 
the Compromise of 1850. 

1st. The Nebraska-Kansas act violated the Com- 
promise of 1850, by permitting the Territoral Legis- 
lature to legislate on the subject of slavery. The 
32d section of the Nebraska-Kansas act declares that 
"it is the true intent and meaning of the act not to 
legislate slavery (by Congress) into any State or 
Territory, nor to exclude it therefrom, but to leave 
the people thereof perfectly free to form and regu- 
late their domestic institutions in their own way, 
subject only to the constitution of the United States'." 
Mr. Cass took the ground and openly declared 
that slavery was included in the "domestic institu- 
tions," and in his exposition and explanation of the 
Nicholson letter, he said : "Is there one man on 
this floor (United States Senate) who has now any 
doubt as to the true interpretation of the letter? 
Now, that tho excitement ot an election has passed 
away, and we can all look coolly to things as they 
are, is there any man heie, or elsewhere, who can 
p>it any other construction upon this letter than that 
which its words plainly import, that, in the mean- 
inie, during the pende?ic;/ot' the Ifirriforial govern- 
ments, they should be allowed to manage their own 
concerns in their own way ? Does not slavery come 
within this category?" So spoke Gen. Cass. The 
Kansas act not only repealed the compromise of 
1820, of which I shall speak after awhile, but It 


actually repealed all tho hiws establiching w pro- 
hibiting slavery in the Teirltory, prior to the Afis- 
souri Compromise. Now, it must be rocoUoctod that 
sbvery existed in tho Louisiana Territory, (uml 
Kansas is apart of the Territory) prior to tlio Miv 
souri restriction of 1820, and the Missouri restric- 
tion being imconstitutional, as my Democratic 
friends assert, and as the friends of the Kansas act 
asserted at its passage, and as the Supreme Court 
has decided, if the Congress of the United States 
had not in the Kansas act repealed the laws estab- 
lishing slavery in the Territory, prior to the i)assago 
of the Missouri Compromise, would not slavery have 
existed in the Territory of Kansas by virtue of the 
lev loci, or law of tho land ? Mo-)t assuredly it 
would, and Kansas would be a slave Territory. IJut 
the Kansas act repealed the lex loci which existed 
and tolerated slavery in the Territory as a part of 
the Lousiana purchase, and gave to the territorial 
Legislature the power to pass enactments on the 
subject — the power to prohibit or interdict slavery 
if tliey chose to do so. 

Li this, the supporters of the Kansas act violated 
the doctrine of "«o?t-intervention." 

During the pendency of the Compromise billa of 
1850, the celebrated letter of Gen. Cass to Mr. Nich- 
olson, and every other subject almost, connected 
with the powers of Congress over the Territories, 
and with the powers of Territorial Legislators them- 
selves, were discussed in Congress, and the records 
show some strange things. 

The Democrats on this floor, and in this debate, 
have again and again asserted that their party advo- 
cated the doctrine of non intervention, and one of 
them announced that Mr. Bell had never committed 
himself, to his knowledge, to the principle of non- 
intervention. Let us see if this is correct. I guess, 
Mr. Speaker, that gentleman will hear a strange re- 
port when I read the record, and that they will find 
some of their leaders in strange company. If you 
will refer to the Congressional Globe you will find 
that Mr. Berrien offered an amendment to the Terri- 
torial Bill in these words, viz: "But no law shall be 
passed interfering with the piimary disposal of the 
soil, nor establishing, or prohibiting African slavery." 
Here now, is tho true doctrine — true non-iutciven- 
vention. How was the vote? In the affirmative, 
or for theametidinent, I find the names of Mr. Boll, 
Mr. Clay, and also the name of Mr. Webster. In 
the negative, or ar;ainH the amendment, I find the 
names of Cass and Douglas, Democratic leaders, and 
the high priests of the party, associated with Chase, 
Seward and Hale, who are denounced as Black Re- 
publicans. What think you of this? Here, the 
question of non-intervention is fairly and plainly 
proposed — Mr. Bell votes for it, and Messrs. Cass and 
Douglas vote against it! If then, your leaders at 
the North are the advocates of non-intervention, 
why did they not vote for this amendment? 

The Kansas act established the doctrine of "Terri- 
torial Sovereignty," called by the Democrats, popU' 
lar sovereignty, and nick-named "squatter sover- 

This new doctrine, territorial sovereignty, wag 
first promulged by Gen. Cass in his letter to Mr. 
Nicholson in 1848, and I recollect very well and that 
during the rresidential canvass of that year, one of 
the leaders o! the Democratic party in thia state 

made a speech in my eounty town, and as the 
whigs had no champion present to reply to him, it 
fell to my lot, by the calls of my friends, to reply 
myself. 'l felt ill prepared to reply to the speech 
of of such an able debater and distinguished a poli- 
tician, and took the stand with fear and trembling. 
I thought and believed that I could build up a 
speech in reply, on this celebrated letter and made 
it the principal part of my argument. I read_ the 
letter and declared to the assembly that the prmcj- 
ple of Territorial sovereignty was embodied in it 
and that under its operation not another slave 
state would ever be added to the Union. The dis 
tinguished speaker replied after I had concluded 
my remarks, and charged me with misrepresenting 
Gen. Cass, and that no such principle could be 
fairly deduced from the letter. In that canvass, 
the Whigs every where in this country made the 
same charge which I did, and every where the 
Democrats denied it, and charged us with misrepre 
Fcnting Gen. Cass, and asserted that he held no 
Buch doctrine, nor did any such principle exist in 
the Nicholson letter. It turned out, however, that 
during the next Congress, Mr. Cass himself was 
called^on to explain what he did mean by this 
mysterious announcement, and after he had made 
the explanation, which was precisely as we had 
explained it, a distinguished Senator called on him 
to know where the people of a Territory got this 
power from? Mr. Cass answered, "from God Al- 
mighty, where wo get all our power." 

Mr. Speaker, was not this a strange answer to be 
"iven by a man— by a statesman who acknow- 
fedges the Constitution of the U. S. States, to be 
our highest pohtical law! But sir, the answer 
certainly places the gentleman in the class of some 
Northern Senators who contend for, and advocate, 
"a higher law." , , . • 

Some rich things transpired during the debate in 
Congress on this principle of territorial sovereignty 
— the power of a territorial Legislature to legislate 
as they pleased. I want to read you the remarks of 
some Southern gentlemen and of some also from the 
North on this new doctrine which was first announc- 
od by Mr. Cass — afterwards adopted by Mr. 
Douglass, and incorporated in the Kansas act; and 
alsoUie views of some distinguislied Senators as to 
the powers of a territorial Legislature. I will first 
read vou what Mr. Jeff. Davis said, "The Senator 
from Illinois (Mr. Douglas) says that the inhabitants 
of a territory have a light to decide what their in- 
stitutions shall be. When? By what authority?— 
How many of them? Does the Senator tell me as 
ho did once before, from the authority of God?— 
Then one man may go into a territory and establish 
the fundamental law fur all time to come. I claim 
that a people having sovereignty over a territory 
have power to decide what their institutions shall 
be. That is the democratic doctrine, as I have al- 
ways understood it ; and under our constitution, 
the inhabitants of the territories acquire that 
right whenever the United States surrenders the 
sovereignty to them by consenting that they shall 
become States of the Union, and they have no 
such right before. It is not the inhabitants of the 
territory, but the people as a political body, 
the people organized, who have the right; and on 
becoming a State, bv the authority of the Tiiuted 

States, exercising sovereignty over the territory, 
they may establish a fundamental law for all time U) 
come " This, Mr. Speaker, is my view of the sub- 
ject and 1 understand that Mr. Bell holds this opin- 
ion ' Do the democrats on this floor oppose this 
doctrine? We shall see before we get through with 
this discussion. But, sir, I have more democartic 
testimony to give against this "higher law' do«trme 
of territorial sovereignty, as advocated by Mr. Oasd 
and Senator Douglass, and now very beautifully ex- 
emplified by the Governor (or late Governor ot 
Utah.) , 

Let me read you what Senator Butler, a true and 
genuine Southern man, and a Democrat of the pur- 
est sart, thought of this doctrine. Mr. Butler said: 
"Sir, I was going on to speak of the people haying 
a right, independantly of the Constitution, by which 
even Conn-ress derives its power, to make whatever 
laws they please for themselves. This is, indeed,^ a 
new idea. The principle which pervades all legis- 
lion upon this subject is, that a Territorial Legisla- 
lature is given bv Congress, subject to all the limi- 
tations imposed by Congress, and it has no powers 
except those which are given to it by Congress. In 
other words, it has power to legislate upon those 
subjects onlv which are specified in the grant, ihis, 
I am aware' is inconsistant with the broad notice 
that those squatters, the moment they put then- 
feet on the soil, are freeholders, and are entitled to 
exercise all the privileges of citizens of a State. 

How do you like this ? These are the words of 
a democrat. Can you deny it? Where,Iagam 
ask do you get this doctrine of territorial soyer- 
eigrity'^ But, sir, I have more testimony against 
the democratic party yet. Let me now read you 
what Mr. King, the democrat lor whom you all vot- 
ed for Vice President, said about this uovol and 
extraordinary doctrine. , . 

Mr. King said : "I am opposed to giving to the 
Territorial Legislatures any power either to prohibnt 
or introduce slavery. * * / 

I difter with the Senator from Illinois in toto J:'^''^^ 
his argument is a free soil speech ; it is the W ilmot 
proviso, so far as the argument goes. ^ 

"Sir I never did agree with my friend from Michi- 
gan 'in regard to what is supposed to be the con- 
struction of the Nicholson letter. I never did be- 
lieve that a Territorial Legislature possessed any 
power whatever, but such as is delegated to it^by 
the Congress of the United States. * * . . „x 
Sir what do you require of them." (The territories?) 
"That they shall pass no law that is not to be sub- 
mitted to Congress for its approbation, leaving 
them strictly to the control of the Congress of the 
United States in every act that they may pass. And 
yet, gentlemen get up at this day and advocate on ^ 
the floor of the Senate, the monstrous doctrine that 
these Territoral Legislatures, consisting of a mere 
handful of men, should make laws to affect every 
description of property." _ c ■ . 

Now sir-, I will give you the testimony of a giant 
-none of your "Uttle giants;" but of a man who 
was indeed a giant-a nian-a northern man, who 
stood above all other men, as an expounder of the 
Constitution. I allude to Mr. Webster. He said on 
the subject of territorial power to legislate on slav- 
ery "B'lt the whole .lucsii-.n hi this case, 1 uu- 


derstand to be just tliii : Whether the estublisli- 
iMcnt or exclusiou of Hlavfiy shall bo left to the peo- 
jile of the territories lo decide when they come to 
form a State government. Nosv it is agreed on all 
Imnds that it (slavery) is a matter of municipal law. 
AVe know that if t-livery were introduced into the 
territories, the moment the people formed a State 
government they could abolish it. On the other 
hand, if it were prohibited, the moment they form- 
ed a State government they could introduce it, if 
they saw fit. Nevertheless, it is not upon that 
ground that I proceed, though I think it is a very 
proper ground. It conceive that the proper mode 
of proceeding is to leave this matter to State Lrg- 
islatioii, after tlic Territories sliall have become 
State.i.^^ Here, sir, is the true ground — the true 
doctrine for all men to advocate, and especially for 
us of the South. I endorse it most cordially. Does 
any democrat on this fieor object to it ? Here is 
the man who has been denounced again and again, 
by the democrats of the south, as an enemy to the 
south — as an abolitionist, and by every other name 
that could prejudice our people against him, advo- 
cating the only doctrine which can possibly save 
the south from being over run by free soilers in the 
trrritories. Do you oppose Mr. Bell because he 
holds this doctrine V Do you oppose it? Let us 
have no dodgmg — no evasion of the point — come 
up to the figiit, and tell us whether you endorse 
this doctrine, or the "higher law," squatter saver- 
eign doctrine of Cass and Douglass. 

Mr. Speaker: What a horrible state of things is 
existing in Utah at this time ! It is all the legitimate 
result of this new fangled idea aimounced in the 
Kansas act that the inhabitants of a Territory have 
the right to legislate as they please. In olden times, 
and up to the passage of the Kansas bill, all the acts 
of the territorial legislatures had to be approved by 
Congresss before they became laws, but just as soon 
as you announced the new doctrine that a Territorij 
■was a sovereignty, why Utah set up for herself. We 
never had any trouble with Brighara Young nor his 
people in Utah while the old doctrine was practiced 
and Congress supervised their legislation, but as 
soon as you announced that a Territory was a sov- 
ereignty, why Brigham set up for himself, as he 
had the right to do under your declaration. 

I ask, sir, is it not best in view of the character of 
the Territories which are now being organized, and 
which are to continue to be organized for a great 
many years to come, — I say, sir, is it not best that 
Congress should have the supervision of their teiri- 
toriallegislation? If you will think for a moment 
where they are situated, of what classes of human 
beings they are to be peopled, will you not conclude 
that it is safest for the purity of our goverment, and 
for the perpetuity of our institutions that Congress 
shall exercise its guardianship over them as it did 
in the days of Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Mad- 
ison, Monroe, Jackson and Polk? 

The laws enacted by Kansas were not required to 
be submitted to Congress for its approval, as the 
laws of Utah and New Mexico were, and therefore, 
in this respect, the Kansas act violated the Com- 
promise of 1850. 

The Kansas act violated the Compromise of 1850, 
in repealing the Missouri Compromise of 1820, as 
I Lave shown. 

The Kansas act viulatcd tin) Compromise of 1S50 
in permitting persons to vote wiio had only taken 
an oath to support the Constitution, and declared 
ihclr iutnition of becoming citizens! The Compro- 
mise acts declared that none should vote but citi- 
zen?, aM(i those recognized as citizens l)y treaty 

I have now shown, Mr. Speaker, that instead of 
the Kansas act carrying out and establishing the 
principles of the Conipi-omise of ISSi), it has posi- 
tively violated the Compromise — established new 
and dangerous principles, and which are well cal- 
culated to arouse the fears of every man who loves 
good government and has any respect for the fath- 
ers of our country. 

Was Mr. Bell, then, under any obligation to voto 
for the Kansas bill, believing that it was a mis- 
chievous measure, and calculated to do harm? I 
say he was not. And may I not appeal to you. Sir, 
and every gentleman on this floor, if his predictions 
of the evils which would result from its passage, 
have not befallen the country in even a worse form 
than he predicted ? You know they have ; you all 
know it, and yet you call on him to resign, and say 
his countrymen have decided againsthim, M'hen not 
one of you dare advocate the principles which ho 

What principle now — name it — what principle 
in the Kansas bill do you advocate which Mr. Bell 
opposed ? Speak out. Ah, there is one, and what 
is it ? Why, Mr. Bell was opposed to the repeal of 
the Compromise of 1820, — the Missouri restriction ! 
Yes, and so were the men wlio made the Compro- 
mise of 1850, and so were all those old patriots and 
statesmen, who are now denominated by you as 
old fogies, and enemies of the South. 

Well, but you say in your preamble, that "the 
principles of the Kansas act meet your unqualified 
approbation." Which one of them ? I have examin- 
ed all that are peculiar to the act, which do you ap- 
prove ? Territorial sovereignty ? Alien sufirage ? 
The principle for the inhabitants of a territory to 
legislate as they please? No matter who they are, 
or how many? Did you tell our people that you 
advocated these principles? Did you tell them 
that you opposed Mr. Bell because he was opposed 
to these principles? No sir, you did no such thing. 
Your whole cry was that Mr. Bell had affiliated 
i with the Black Bepublicaus, and was opposed to 
the Kansas bill, when neither you nor many of those 
to whom you talked, knew anything about the prin- 
ciples of the bill which were peculiar to it, and which 
Mr. Bell opposed. 

Mr. Speaker: It would bo a fortunate thing for 
the American people, if this Kansas act had never 
been passed. I believe. Sir, (and I speak for myself 
alone) that this celebrated Kansas Bill has been the 
cause of more mischief to our country — and will 
continue to be the source of more evil, more jeal- 
ousy, and more sectionalism amongst our people, 
than all the acts of our Government beside. I be- 
lieve, sir, that it was concieved in, sin ; that it was 
shapcned in iniquity, and that its tendency has 
been to evil, and that continually. Ever since its 
introduction into Congress, the national council has 
been the theatre of personal abuse, and sectional 
harangues. Ever since its passage, the political 
skies have been o'ercast with clouds of portentous 


appcaraiicp, and anon, tba thumlor of dimuption, 
rfisuiiion ami civil war, have been heard in our bor- 

Would that I could erase from the etntute book 
that urifortunatfi act, ort''«i some mighty phjsieian 
would arise who could administer aletheaii draught 
to the nation that it might forever forget that such 
iiu act was ever passed; or that we could summon 
from the spirit land a Clay and a Webster, to heal 
the dissentions of our people. 

Mr. Speaker, was it not an unfortunate act. Has 
it settled anything? True, it has broken down the 
"restriction line of 36, oO"; and according to the 
decision of the Supreme Court, a man has a right to 
carry and hold his negroes in any territory belong- 
ing to the United States, — but did he not have this 
right before? Most assuredly ho did, for the right 
PS secured to him by the Constitution of the United 
States, as declared by the Federal Judiciary. The 
Kansas act then did not settle this question. But 
what did it do? It broke up and destroyed a com- 
promise made by our fathers, which wa& made to 
heal the divisions of our people — which did heal 
them and which might have stood in all time to 
come, to the injury of no man on the face of the 

Mr. Speaker, I never advocated the justice of this 
"restriction clause." The 7iecessitij for such an act 
ought never to have existed. We were all one 
people — bound together by one common bond, and 
liad one destination. But in an unguarded hour an 
evil spirit sprung up in our midst, and his fiendish 
yells fell on the ears of our sages "like a fire bell at 
night." It was then sir, when the fears of our 
fathers were aroused for the safety of the only citadel 
of human liberty on this greeu earth, that they in 
their wisdom and patriotism said: "That slavery 
nor voluntary servitude, except for crime, shall nev- 
er exist north of 3G deg. So', north latitude." 

Well sir — There was but little in this declaration 
— practically, it amounted to nothing at all, if you 
please — for Mr. Clay is said to have laughed at the 
idea of how small a thing should have quieted the 
nation, and restored peace and good feeling. Small 
things sometimes produce mighty results. Confi- 
dence alone, will enable all the Banks in the nation 
to resume specie payment to-morrow, and confidence 
will enable them to continue just so long as they 
please, and yet confidence will not put one silver dol- 
lar more in their vaults! There is magic in the 

But the restriction was uncoiistitutional, says one, 
and ought to have been removed! So also was the 
purchase of Louisiana; and the only difference be- 
tween the two acts my be told in a few words — Mr. 
Jefferson knew when he purchased Louisiana, that 
he was doing an unconstitutional act; but the 
authors and supporters of the "restriction," did the 
actiunwittingly. Mr. Jefferson was sustained, and is 
now sustained for doing an act which he believed to 
be unconstitutional, while the authors of the "restric- 
tion act" are condemned for doing what they be- 
lieved they had the right to do! 

Let the "restriction act of 1820" have been con- 
stitutional or uncoustituonal— let it have been j^er se, 
right or wrong — and small in itself, and insignificant 
as it may have been, yet by its repeal wo have 
melancholy exemplification (to ub9 tho language of 

one of our greatest Statesmen) how small a share of 
huuiau wisdom is necessary to destroy a nation'n 
happines". The meanest pigmy, clothed with 
authority, and'armed with a sceptre, can, in a mo- 
ment, destroy a nation's prosperity, which all tho 
intellectual giants of the land cannot repair in a' 
series of years. •■ 

That evil has grown out of the repeal of the nci 
of 1820 is too true to admit of a doubt. None but' 
those who are blind and deaf to the signs of the! 
times, can but fear that the cloud which now lowers! 
o'er the plains of Kansas miy contain the thunderl 
which will shake this Union to its centre, even ifj 
it should not break up its very foundations. To 
that unlbrtunate Territory, prematurely born, peace 
has been a stranger. 

Tlie very first appointment for Governor to Kan- 
sas was unhappy and impolitic. For the South 
had been taught by the southern democrats, who 
supported the Kansas-Nebraska bill, that under the 
provisions of the act, Nebraska might be a free 
stale, but that Kansas tvould be a slave state. It 
is true that some Northern democrats said that the 
bill, "was a bill for freedom and that under its pro- 
visions not another inch of Slave territory would 
ever be added to the U. States;" but ^ill, we knew 
that doctors would disagree; and some were so gul- 
lable as to believe that "Buck, Breck and/r«e Kan- 
sas" meant nothing more than Buchanan for P esi- 
dent — Breckenridge for Vice President, and Kan- 
sas to do as she pleases. Well, Mr. Speaker, Buch- 
anan was elected President — Breckenridge^ Vico 
President; but what became of Kansas? 

I said that the first appointment for Governor 
was unhappy and impolitic. If Mr. Pierce, the 
then President, and his advisers, had desired 
any compromise between the North and South as 
to the partitioning of this immense Territory, why 
did he not appoint a slaveholder Governor of Kan 
sas, and a non-slave holder Governor of Nebraska? ] 
Strange to say, he appointod a frcc-soiler for Kan- 
sas, and a slave holder for Nebraska. 

This act was one of the first to arouse my sus- 
picion of the sincerity of the President towards the 
South. I always have believed that he acted in bad 
faith towards us, and if the appointments have been 
reversed a different state of things would have ex- 
isted and Kansas inight have been a slave State. 
But impolitic counsels prevailed — a free-soiler was 
appointed and from Reeder to Walker we have had 
free-soilers sent as Governors to Kansas, and noth- 
ing but discord, strife and civil war have prevailed. 

All the evil consequences, worse even than antici- 
pated by Mr. Bell, have resulted from the passage 
of the Kansas bill, and no mortal man can tell what 
may not yet happen before peace is restored to that 
unfortunate Territory. 

Gentlemen say "that the principles of the Kansas' 
bill meet their unqualified approbation." What 
principles ? I have examined all that argpeculiar to 
it and violative of the compromise of 1850, which 
one do they endorse that Mr. B. opposed ? Come 
up now gentlemen, face the music ! Tell us which 
one of the principles /)ccM/«ar to the Kansas bills do 
you approve? Is it "territorial sovereignty ?" No, 
because you told tho people in the late canvass that 
there was no such principle in it, and if there wa?, 
you did not approve it. 

Do vuti ijppioTo the principle, coii?»equenl, Hpoti 
this soveifignty, of permiuing tlio teriiiorial legis- 
latures to lej^islate na they please itidependent ol'the 
supervision of Congress, as they were perrailted to 
do in the Kansas act? and violiitive of the territo- 
rial acts for New Mexico and Utah, as per compro- 
mise 18-30 ? You dare not Fay yea, becaus" if you 
do, you stultify yourselves when you s.iy "that the 
Kansas act carried out the pi inciples of the com- 
promise of 18501 

Do you advocate the right of persons to vote be- 
fore they become citizens? If you do, you again 
violate the principle of the compromise of 1850, 
which permitted none but citizens to vote ! 

For what then do you condemn Mr. Bell, and 
why do you call on him to resign ? Have you dis- 
cussed those principles before the people? Have 
the people decided against Mr. Bell on any one of 
these principles? I say emphatically they have 
not and will not. Tis true, Democracy has tri- 
umphed in Tennessee — you have a majority here 
and you use it to expel Mr. Bell from the U. S. 
Senate; but I again declare it is not because of his 
oppositkn to the principles peculiar to the Kansas 

The Kansas bill is a heterogeneous mixture of 
• -nrie and novel principles unheard of, or not advo- 
•d before in any territorial bill since the organi- 
zation of our government, and like the democratic 
phiform, to which the gentleman alluded, was made 
up )f all sorts of ingredients to delude and charm 
tb'; people both North and South, They remind 
mn of the charmed pot in Macbeth, and having al- 

' .'d to the simile before my people, I will here 

jat it. The weired sisters were engaged in mak- 
1' ;:■ a charm, and you recollect, Mr. Speaker, that 
terrible were the ingredients which they put in it. 
Let me recite those put in by the second witch, 
calling them over aa she deposited them in the 
bailing cauldron — 

"Fillet of a fenny snake, 
In the cauldron boil and bake. 
, Eye of newt and toe of frog — 

': ^ AVool of bat and tongue of dog; 

Adder's fork and blind worm's sting — 
Liziard's leg and owlet's wing, 
Forma charm of powerful trouble; 
In the cauldron boil and bubble." 

When the three sing : 

«. Black spirits and white, 

Red spirits and gray. 
Mingle, mingle, mingle, 
You that mingle, may." 

Yes, sir, and they did mingle, and such a ming- 
iing was never witnessed before, as when this Cin- 
cinnati platform was adopted. 

A word now, Mr. Speaker, as to Mr. Bell, and I 
f-hall conclude. 

Mr. Bell is the oldest public servant now alive in 
Tennessee; I mean he has been in public life longer 
than any other man in Tennessee. 

He was born in this (Davidson) county, and com- 
menced the practice of law at a very early age in 
the adjoining county of Williamson. 

In the year Ml?, he^was elected by the mana- 
gers of a fourth of July celebration to deliver an 
oration, which ho did, and before he left tho ground 
he was nominated by public acclaim as a candidate 
to represent tho county in the Senatorial branch of 

the Gcnetal Assembly, which waa to convene in Ifie 
city of Knoivilio on tho Srd Monday of Sept. fol- 
lowing. And although Mr. Bell had only ono 
month to canvass, and had also an opponent al- 
ready in the field — a gentleman of tried abilitieti 
and high qualifications, yet he was elected by a 
handsome vote, and some say even before he was 
constitutionally clligible. 

He served the session, returned to middle Ten- 
nessee — married, in my county, the daughter of 
a most excellent and worthy gentleman, and set- 
tled soon afcerwards in Nashville to pursue tho 
practice of the law, which he did, until the summer 
of 1827, when he made the memorable canvass for 
Congress against a man who was considered the 
ablest and shrewdest politician in the State — I al- 
lude to the Hon. Feliz Grundy. It was indeed an 
exciting and able canvass. They canvassed tho 
district, then composed of the counties of Davidson, 
AViiliamson and Rutherford, and every where tho 
people rushed in crowds to hear the disputants. 
I shall never forget the scene in my county town, 
Murfreesboro. The people were wild with anxiety 
to hear, and a vast mnjtitude convened, a thing 
then unusual, and unknown in our country. 

I was but a school boy, and I recollect that many 
of us left and went to hear the young man meet 
the champion of many battles. It was the first po- 
litical speech I ever heard, and I shall never forget 
the appearance of Mr. Bell on that occasion. As 
was perfectly natu-ral, ^Ir. Bell being much the 
younger man, ho had our sympathies. We rejoiced 
at the result of the debate, and all — every one, I 
think, left Bell men. 

He continued to represent the people in Congress 
after the district was changed, and was once elect- 
ed Speaker of the House of Representatives. 

In 1S40, he received the appointment of Secre- 
tary of war in Gen. Harrison's cabinet, and in 1842 
resigned, having filled the office with distinguished 
ability and to the entire satisfaction of bis friends. 

He remained in private life until 1847, when ho 
was elected by an overwhelmning majoriiy to rep- 
resent the county of Davidson in the popular branch 
of the General Assembly, and during the session I 
had the pleasure of helping to elect him a Senator 
to the Congress of the United States. 

In 1853 he was re-elected, and his term of office 
expires, by the Constitution, on the 4th of March, 

And now, Mr. Speaker, here is a man who com- 
menced public \\{q forty years ago — who has spent 
the vigor of his manhood, and almost the whole of 
his life in the service of his country, and greatly 
too, as every public man knows, to his own private 
injury — who has now grown old in maintaining tho 
character and dignity of Tennessee in the councils 
of the nation — whose term of service will expire, at 
furthest, in a little more than one year from thia 
time. I say, sir, this man who stands now almost 
as tho only link, if not the only one, which connects 
us of the present day to the heroes of the Revolu- 
tion, and to the fathers of our glorious Constitution, 
is to bo driven from the Senate, even before his 
time, by the party, calling itself Democratic ! Well, 
sir, I have no favors to ask of you for Mr. Bell. 
Strike him down. We defy you; But remember, 
wo shall take an appeal to the peop!'^ of Tennessee. 

Many of vou hopo thnt ha will disobey yonr mnn- i 
date— I know not. You bucceeded once before in 
driving from the Senate that old patriot and states- | 
man, Hugh L. Whit-e, and the people of Tennes 
see emptied the vials of their wrath on your heads 
for such an outrageous act. It >nai/ he .10 again. 

But, Mr. Speaker, who is to succeed him ? Where 
is your man to fill his place in the Senate? You 
may strike him down, but who is to fill the seat 
which he has occupied with such distinguished 
ability? Whom have you got that can stand as 
conservator of the peace in these perilous times ? 
Who, of all your men, can stand in his place in the 
Senate, and command the respect and confidence 
of the conflicting sections now at work for the de- 
struction of our Union ? You have not got the man 
— he does not belong to your party— you may se- 
lect, and doubtless will select some one to succeed 
him, but I imagine his successor, when ho comes to 
occupy the seat which Mr. Bell has filled with so 
much credit to himself and honor to his country, 
will feel very much like Martin Van Buren looked 

when be was dressed in Gen. JacksonV regimental 
and commanded to walk in the footsteps of bis illus 
trious predecessor. 

Note. ^It is proper to remark that during the de 
livery of this speech, the speaker was frequently ir 
terrupted by interrogations from various gentlemer 
w liich caused many digresions from the course whic 
he had chalked out for himself. This will explai 
to those who heard the speech the impossibility 1 
writing it out, precisely as it was delivered. Whi! 
therefore some points, which the speaker regret 
are necessarily omitted because of his indistinti 
recollection of them in a running debate, yet tb 
views of the speaker on all the points pertaining ' 
the subject under debate, are as fully written o 
as he is able to do, and in accordance with the not 
which he had prepared for the occasion, some 
which were also omitted for want of time. 


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Jan Feb 1989 

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